Do pull behind dethatchers work? If you own a large yard that is in terrible condition due to excessive build-up of thatch, you need to dethatch it to save it.
This drastic but effective lawn maintenance chore requires that you buy or rent a good pull behind dethatcher – a tow-behind dethatcher is quicker on the job than a power rake, manual, and walk-behind dethatchers when it comes to bigger greenspaces because of the wider working width.
These machines- towed by riding mowers, tractors, UTVs/ATVs, and more- are quite costly, and it’s common for first-time homeowners to wonder if they truly work and whether they’re worth the money.
Put another way, do they effectively eliminate the thatch that is stunting your turf’s health by creating a barrier that keeps moisture and other lawn essentials from reaching the root system?
Well, read through this handy guide to learn everything you need to know about this equipment before you make your final decision…
How Pull Behind Dethatchers Work
You’re perhaps aware that the implement features rows of blades or knives that plunge into the ground to cut up heavily matted grass.
That said, some dethatchers use heavy-duty tines and prongs to comb the yard, extracting accumulated thatch and bringing it to the surface for mulching or removal using a lawn sweeper or vacuum.
Either way, the entire operation is straightforward- you simply run the tool over the yard two (or three times, if necessary) for it to dethatch your lawn properly.
Now to the crucial question: do pull behind dethatchers work?
Do pull behind dethatchers work?
In our experience, pull behind dethatchers work amazingly well and are the most dependable means of achieving maximum thatch removal when the thatch layer exceeds the deepest acceptable depth (5-inch).
In fact, for most of them, the dethatching action is excellent – you simply tow the attachment over the lawn with any rider/tractor (including a ZTR or ATV) to have it uproot massive amounts of dead grass, moss, and other matter swiftly.
The tines are tough and aggressively break up, then pull up layers of thatch to the surface once you have it set correctly. I should mention that you’re in full control of the operation- You can get as little or as much thatch out as you’d like by towing the machine around fewer or more times.
Plus, these dethatchers tend to have features that prevent their tines from digging in too much. For example, the adjustable wheels in the popular Brinly DT-48BH Tow Behind Dethatcher keep the tines from getting too deep.
Others have an adjustment bar to lower and raise the tines as desired and work beautifully.
Advantages of pull behind dethatchers
Other reasons that make them tick include:
1. They can be gentler on yards
Truth be told, dethatching causes plenty of damage to grass if not approached the right way, and it may be counterproductive to your efforts to have the most beautiful lawn on the block.
This is not something you’ll be losing any sleep over with a towable dethatcher. Take for example, the above-mentioned Brinly Dethatcher- its spring tines are engineered to be elastic, so they softly comb through lawns, uprooting the thatch without hurting the grass!
In addition, these types of dethatchers often come with more flexible options. For instance, you can engage the light detaching option when tackling a lawn that’s already in a shaky condition or when dethatching vulnerable spring grass.
Still, you can shift to the aggressive mode when you come to spots that need thorough and elaborate dethatching.
2. You get to dethatch in more different patterns
When you want to free your lawn from a super dense under-layer of thatch and prevent it from returning, you have little choice other than comprehensively dethatching the area.
Pull behind dethatchers tend to outshine their more inexpensive siblings here.
Here is why: because of their generally more innovative engineering, you can tow it over the yard in more different patterns for perfect results. In short, you can drive it over the yard in vertical, horizontal, and even concentric rings to maximize thatch elimination.
3. You can add more extra weights
While sometimes the weight of the dethatcher is enough to make the tines dig deeper into the soil, there’s a bigger weight tray in most of them to hold additional weight, if required, for more rigorous dethatching.
Adding more weight has another benefit: it’s the best way to keep it from bouncing around when towed too fast (always try to keep the ground speed reasonably down for the best results) or when navigating bumpy areas.
How to adjust pull behind dethatcher
Dethatching is usually most effective when you have adjusted the height of the tines so that they grab an accurate amount of thatch each time.
For best results, adjust it as follows before you start:
- Set it on a smooth, flat ground surface like your driveway.
- Kneel and check the tine position. You want the tines slightly above the surface (not more than a few inches above the ground).
- If this is not the case, adjust the height by moving the knob or lever (refer to your owner’s manual to know the right direction to go for your machine) a little each time while keeping an eye on the tines.
- Start your tractor and dethatch by making two perpendicular passes (overlap each time). Stop and check if the machine is ejecting the perfect amount of thatch.
- Make adjustments as and if needed, up or down- you should not go exceed ¼-inch each time- until you achieve proper results.
Caution: Avoid Injury by ensuring your hands and feet are clear of the tine tips during the adjustment.
Compared to a power rake, manual, and walk-behind dethatchers, a pull behind dethatcher cuts down labor time significantly when it comes to bigger properties because of the wider working swathes.
More importantly, their advanced construction- notably the use of heavier duty metal, longer and tougher tines/blades, and larger weight trays-means- not only thoroughly remove thatch but also make the entire operation friendlier for you.
The good thing is that you have countless models to choose from, whether you want to hire or make an outright purchase.
Do your homework and choose a dethatcher model that best meets your yard’s needs.
References and Citations:
1. Northern Tool and Equipment Inc; STRONGWAY: 40 in. Dethatcher Owner’s Manual- https://m.northerntool.com/images/downloads/manuals/49175.pdf
2. Fimco Industries: Owner’s Manual Model: DTH-42 (5301491) (42″ Tow-Behind Lawn Dethatcher) – https://amazingmachinery.com/user-manual/wheeled-dethatcher-DTH-42.pdf